All-out Onslaught Build
Foreword: I know a lot of players hate this build and deem it overpowered, or that it takes away from build diversity, but this is only partially true. This build is meant to be played from 1-50 because it's the most cost-effective way of going through expeditions and farming prestige, so that you can unlock the mid-term and end-game heroes faster and more efficiently. I don't imagine anyone winning with Belle at level 100.
I . What is it?
What is the All-out Onslaught Build aka. Bellerophon Build or AoE (area of effect) BM (battle magic) Build? Basically, it involves running the following:
1. All-out Onslaught* Hero, i.e. Bellerophon, Conan, or one 3 prestige heroes (one per faction)
2. Nymph Dancer, i.e. Artemis, or one of 2 prestige heroes (both Poseidon)
3. Buglers, i.e. Hecate, Erin, or a prestige hero (Thoosa - Poseidon M6, Hebe - Zeus M22, Lachesis - Athena M22)
*Heroes with other "aoe" (area-of-effect) BMs, such as Strike the Line or Column, are more situational, they usually have more damage and can be used, but can also be countered more easily with an open formation.
There are several variations:
1. 2 Nymph Dancers to make sure Belle gets to at least 100% morale per round (Poseidon only)
2. 2 or 3 Buglers, to boost morale well above 100% to increase the damage further (damage is scaled to morale), (3 Buglers & no healer for burst damage is only best for PvP and single target Expeditions)
3. 1 Healer for sustainability in Legion or League battles
http://b4.clapalong.com/?fid=N2011012310412497 (showing a traditional All-out Onslaught build, good vs. everything except Dodge)
http://b4.clapalong.com/?fid=N2011012310401413 (showing Strike the Column vs. All-out Onslaught, note how situationally, the Column attacks won despite being under-geared and leveled)
Why are all the top players on each server running it? Is this build overpowered? The answer is Yes, and No. The build is only "overpowered" in an environment where players are still leveling, but not in an environment where resources are no longer as scarce, i.e. end-game.
What makes the build overpowered while leveling? Well, to take full advantage of the build for attack, all you have to do is the following:
1. 1 Horse - keep it enhanced. You receive a blue elephant mount (level 21) for completing Athens, and a yellow dragon mount (level 36) for completing Heath Aflame.
2. Magic Penetration - max this technology. Each level gives +25 Spirit Attack.
3. 1 Hero Washing - you only have to wash one hero for +Spirit, since he is your sole DPS.
4. 1 Hero Fast-Track - you'll only have to keep the BM hero close to max level, all others are secondary.
(Most builds also run Boar's Head formation to maximize Spirit damage; however, formations may vary)
To properly defend against it, you need:
1. 5 Cloaks - one for each Hero, and to compete with the level 36 yellow mount, you'll need yellow cloaks enhanced to the same level. This is 5x as costly
2. Magic Resistance - max this technology. Each level gives +18 Spirit Defense. So every level, the attacker outstrips you by +7. This might be required for game mechanic however, to ensure that not as many battles end in Ties.
3. 5 Hero Washing - you'll have to get the Spirit attribute up for 5 heroes to defend as opposed to one to attack.
4. 5 Hero Fast-Track - you'll have to keep all your heroes near Assembly level to be effective.
Not to mention to properly counter-attack, you need weapons & mounts for each of your heroes that do damage. Things like Faculty also help. The bottom line is that, to defend costs at least 5x more than to attack in both Drachmas and Laurels.
Because of its minimal cost and comparative advantage, the AoE BM build is favored by power-levelers who prefer to surge ahead of the pack. Most builds only keep the BM hero at max level, and all secondary heroes are perhaps half its level. Secondary (support) heroes do not require good weapons or mounts, cheap regular items are enough since the +Faculty increase is fixed at +4 per enhancement for all item qualities (white through purple).
III. Countering the Build
Countering the AoE BM build is costly while leveling, but possible:
1. AoE BM - run the same build yourself! What you will have to do is position your units better, i.e. place your Hero strategically to get off the attack before theirs, more buglers, but generally, just better geared and tech.
2. Inverted Wedge - run Inverted Wedge with a "high mobility" troop-type up front (usually cavalry, see Troop Subtypes). Because the opponent only has 1 Hero that does damage, all you have to do is out-dodge him once per round. This requires you to be about the same level, since I believe Hero levels are factored into dodge %. This is definitely the best counter, but may not be well-rounded enough to use against other builds.
3. Anti-BM - use troops such as buglers, or those with Morale Suppression or Nocturnal Blitzrieg. Keep in mind however, that Nocturnal Blitzrieg may not be able to reach the hero doing damage (who is usually sitting in the back). Also, Morale Suppression only does damage to heroes with Morale. Because of the randomized (usually back) placement of the damage-hero, you should also run AoE heroes of your own, i.e. Meteroite Mages or Golden Bulls.
Remember to get good cloaks, keep them upgraded, and to keep Magic Resistance maxed.